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Potsdam Prepared: Fall 2021 Updates

The Composition program at The Crane School of Music is highly selective and provides our students with individualized attention and access to significant opportunities available only to Composition majors.

Course Requirements

Our unique program emphasizes compositional styles consistent with current trends in classical music that are also applicable to film, video and game scoring, and composing for the theater.

As a Composition Major at The Crane School of Music:

  • You will have the unique opportunity to begin private composition study during your first year in the program. You will have the opportunity to gain a wide variety of perspectives by studying with a number of composition faculty members over the course of your degree. (And all private composition lessons are always taught by faculty, never graduate students.)
  • You will have access to a state-of-the-art computer music studio.
  • You will enjoy many opportunities to collaborate with performers and to hear your music performed live on our regularly scheduled composition recitals. There are also opportunities to present your music in off-campus venues.
  • You will have the freedom to explore several elective options in arranging and orchestration, computer music, counterpoint, jazz, world music and other areas.
  • You will have opportunities to work with guest ensembles in reading sessions. Recent visiting chamber groups include ETHEL, the Alexander String Quartet, janus trio, and eighth blackbird.
  • You will have the opportunity to participate in masterclasses with visiting guest composers. Recent visiting composers include Gunther Schuller, George Crumb, William Bolcom, William Averitt, Joel Puckett and Libby Larsen.
  • And you will create and compile a substantial portfolio of compositions, which can be used in preparation for graduate programs or professional work opportunities.

To apply for the composition major at Crane, please submit two or three original scores of contrasting character that best highlight your creativity and potential for compositional growth. You should submit your scores as Finale files, Sibelius files, or in pdf format to

If you have recordings, feel free to submit them in mp3, wav or aiff formats. (Live recordings are encouraged, but not required.) Audio files larger than 5MB may be submitted via Dropbox or posted to a site like Soundcloud.

We encourage applicants to audition and interview on-campus, either during one of our scheduled audition dates or independently. If you are unable to attend an audition on-campus, but would like to apply to our Composition program, we will set up a phone or video interview to discuss our program with you along with your goals and aspirations as a composer.

Please note that all music majors must also pass an audition. For details, see the auditions area of our website at

For more on the composition program, see the composition program brochure.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Tom Cipullo

Acclaimed composer Tom Cipullo spent the Fall 2018 semester on campus working with students to stage the world premiere of his opera, “Mayo.” Cipullo was the recipient of the 2018 Domenic J. Pellicciotti Opera Composition Prize, for which he received a $25,000 commission to complete his winning operatic work.

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Crane Composers

Student composers Thomas Avella '19 (left) and Skye Hamilton-Carranza '19 (right) premiered new works with the Crane Jazz Ensemble in concert.

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Daniel Mertzluff '15

SUNY Potsdam alumnus Daniel Mertzlufft ’15 has been composing music since he was a child. His music has been performed all over the world, including a special performance at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music where his composition was featured at the Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar in 2017—a unique honor as the first commissioned composer for the annual seminar.

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